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Big Up Podcast 76: pReconstrvct mix I ~ Deco

Big Up Podcast 76: pReconstrvct mix I ~ Deco


When it rains, it pours. We're still buzzing from our last week's Silkie's podcast mix (it’s unacceptable if you missed it), and we already have a brand new episode from Deco.

[toggle title=”Track List”]01. Deco – Carry Tears [Deceast]
02. B9 – Abstract Realms [Mindstep Music]
03. Geode – Jade [Smokin’ Sessions]
04. B9 & Jafu – Causes [Chord Marauders]
05. Deco & Edgewoode – Batch Process [Deceast]
06. Scuba – Speak [Hotflush]
07. Amit – No Mercy feat. Rani [AMAR]
08. Deco – Trenchtown [Deceast]
09. Rhythm Riders – Come With The Love (DJ Madd Remix) [Sub Slayers]
10. Martyn – Vancouver [3024]
11. Massive Music – Find My Way (Kode9 Remix) [Hyperdub]
12. Breakage – Together [Digital Soundboy]
13. Killawatt & Ipman – Darkplace [Tempa]
14. Subreachers – Future Target [TUBA]
15. Deco – Skyline 3040 [Deceast]
16. Mateba & Kuantum – Distracted [IM:LTD][/toggle]

Atlanta's native, LA transplant, deeply rooted in local music scene, Matt Rosenzweig, a.k.a. Deco, reminisces the times when things were a lot slower, less disposable, and more valuable. When we listened to our favorite album hundreds of times for months or even years, before moving on to the new thing. It was the time when the dubstep scene was a small family, eager to progress and innovate. Having been there and having seen things change over time, Deco took the most authentic feelings of the time, mixed it with the conceptual approach and progressive taste in music he acquired over the years, added a healthy dose of quality and perfectionism, and wrapped it in a good-looking packaging to produce his debut LP Timescales (up on Deco's SoundCloud for full stream), which is deservingly getting lots of attention at the moment.

Deco sounded like someone we would love to have a drink with, so we went into a lengthy discussion about his label and night Deceast, about his first DJ gig, and his upcoming set at Brooklyn's Reconstrvct.

interview by Katya Guseva

What’s in the name. Why Deco?

There were about 20 other Matt’s in my social circle growing up in Atlanta so we all ended up being differentiated by what part of the city we were from. I was from a neighborhood called Decatur, so I was Matt Decatur. Eventually it got shortened to Matt Deco, and when I started DJing and making music I just stuck with using the last part as an artist name.

It sounds like you’ve taken a lot of time to complete Timescales album. Can you talk about the main challenges on the way?

[quote_left]One of the things that frustrates me about dance music albums, is sometimes they just sound like a collection of singles put together on one release. [/quote_left]One of the things that frustrates me about dance music albums, is sometimes they just sound like a collection of singles put together on one release. I wanted to avoid that feeling on Timescales, and it was definitely a challenge to pull it off. Adding the interludes and avoiding long, DJ-friendly intros & outros were the two main ways I tried to give it more of an album feel.

Another challenge was blocking out the internal voice telling me to make more dancefloor-friendly songs. I try to save that sort of music for singles, remixes and EPs and I wanted Timescales to be something people enjoy listening to at home or in the car, but that could also work in the club on some level.

Lastly, another challenge was staying positive and persisting through what I call the “trough of despair” – that period of time where you’re deeply involved in a creative project beyond the point of no return, but start having big doubts about the quality or the appeal of the creative work. You can’t really get past the “trough of despair” until you finish and put the creative work out in the world, to see if people actually care about it.

What would you say was the defining moment when you knew the album was done? How did it feel then?

The defining moment was wrapping up the last of the attended sessions with the mastering engineer who put the finishing touches on the album. Hive, who people may know from his work in the world of drum & bass, recently launched a mastering studio here in LA called Darkart Mastering. Being a big fan of his work, I jumped at the chance to work with him to master the album. We went through two or three different mastering treatments before deciding on a specific balance between loudness and retaining dynamics. Listening to the reference master in my car driving around LA late at night gave me the “I think this is finished” feeling, and it definitely felt pretty good! I’m looking forward to hopefully doing another album in 2014 so I can get that vibe again.


The cover art is beautiful. What is the concept? Did you design it yourself?

The cover art was generated by visualizing attributes of the music on the album. I have a bit of a technical background and lately I’ve been messing around with a data visualization library called D3.js. I learned about a form of dataviz called Sunburst that had a nice visual appeal to me, so I used D3 to feed a bunch of data about the album to a Sunburst algorithm. The sunburst on the cover is what came out of the algorithm, with extra texture and color treatment applied by Mesck, an artist on Deceast and my closest creative collaborator. We’ve made a bunch of music together and collab’d on designs for the label, our events, and more, so this was just another thing we linked up on.

With your own running night, deejaying, producing and graphic design, do you have time to do anything else? Any other secret talents we don’t know about?

I’ve been trying to lead a healthier lifestyle by cooking at home a lot and getting more exercise, which to be frank is a relatvely new use of my time. It’s been a good way to clear my head. As for secret talents, I like to think that I can make a pretty awesome cup of coffee. My favorite new coffee toy is the AeroPress, it makes some of the best I’ve ever had and it’s super simple to use. If you’re a fan of really good coffee, I definitely suggest you check it out.

At the times when everything is time-sensitive, disposable, and news become old within hours, you’re looking back in time for the nostalgic memories and inspirations for your album. Why? Is it something that you miss now? Or is it simply a good archetype to work from?

[quote_left]I get a little bummed sometimes at how fast creative work becomes “old” now, and how a lot of us are very focused on moving on to the next thing as quickly as possible. [/quote_left]It’s definitely something I miss in this day and age. I romanticize the notion that albums can capture the essence of the period they’re created in. I also get a little bummed sometimes at how fast creative work becomes “old” now, and how a lot of us are very focused on moving on to the next thing as quickly as possible. I’ve made a conscious effort to take a different approach lately and I make sure I keep revisiting music from earlier this year, years past, and decades long gone.

As a creator, I ignore the reality that a lot of people will give the album a listen or two and then move on to something else. I tried to make the album for myself as much as possible, to be something I listen to a long time from now and still enjoy.

What are your top 3 memories from your musical path?

#1. The record clerk handing me a copy of Platinum Breakz II on Metalheadz back in 1997. This single event is what started me on the path of being a lifelong fan of UK bass music in all its shapes and forms.

#2. Getting my first “real” DJ gig, opening for Teebee in Atlanta a good 10+ years ago. Playing alongside some of the best DJs and producers in D&B helped me understand where the bar was set and push myself to make better music and play better shows. I’ve noticed a big trend where artists who are originally known for drum & bass go on to dominate other genres and I think this happens because the standards are so ridiculously high in D&B.

[quote_left]It was small and everyone involved had a real tangible feeling that we were at the beginning of something truly new.[/quote_left] #3. Attending the first dubstep events in Los Angeles back in 2006 – 2007. It was small and everyone involved had a real tangible feeling that we were at the beginning of something truly new. All the usual suspects from the UK were coming over for the first time and it felt like the music was evolving on an almost week-to-week basis. My two favorite shows from this era were seeing Mala for the first time in a Prohibition-era basement speakeasy below an art gallery and Skream’s first LA show at a big loft/warehouse venue.

What are your hopes and dreams for Deceast?

Deceast is pretty much what I want it to be at this point. We have a low volume of releases every year but it’s all quality music we can stand proud of for the long haul. I still play songs off the very first Deceast singles that came out several years ago. I’d like to step up our physical product offerings, doing some small vinyl runs and some apparel, but just need to get the aesthetics for those dialed in. Deceast has been associated with more events lately and that’s been a good experience so expect to see more of that in the future, hopefully outside our home base of LA / SoCal as well.

How would you describe the mix you present today for Big Up audience?

This mix gives a good representation of where I’ve been in the past and what I’m up to currently. There’s several tracks from the Timescales LP here, along with new and unreleased music from friends and artists I admire. There’s also a healthy dose of classics in the mix, giving listeners a trip down memory lane and a bit of context regarding my influences. I hope you enjoy!

As you mentioned, the mix has some classic tunes from when this whole dubstep story began. Where were you then and where did you hear Breakage “Together” first? (If you can remember)

James / Breakage lived in LA for a couple years and we hung out in the same group of people, mostly centered around the SMOG crew and the Pure Filth sound system as well as the Temple of Boom record store. This was around 2007-2008. LA was spoiled in that we got Breakage DJ sets pretty regularly, including I believe some of his first non-D&B gigs. He played “Together” as well as a lot of his other early 140bpm releases on dub in LA for a while, and I think his non-D&B material got more support locally before the UK and Shy FX / Digital Soundboy really picked up on it a bit later.

Picture 4

This December you’re playing Brooklyn’s seminal night Reconstrvct alongside TMSV, Ipman, and Mock The Zuma. Can we expect something similar to this mix? Or do you have some tricks up your sleeve for us?

From what I hear, the Reconstrvct crowd is open minded and pretty receptive to really deep dubstep, so I’ll probably play a lot of music I don’t normally get the chance to due to dancefloor appeal considerations. I’ve got a good amount of new music finished so I’ll definitely be playing lots of new and unreleased tunes. I also always enjoy bringing the classics back out too so expect to hear a few gems. As for the mix, I’d say it’s pretty representative of my sound as a DJ right now.